Monday, March 10, 2008

So, The New House, Then

I may inadvertently have given the impression in the previous post that Mr BC and I are on the verge of purchasing a stately Georgian country house, around the extensive grounds and ornamental lakes of which Mr BC plans to disport himself proprietorially, attired in riding britches and a billowing white shirt (and very handsome he would look too, if this were ever to transpire), while I sit prettily at a variety of elegantly proportioned windows, wearing an empire-line frock and either playing the piano or daintily embroidering another fire screen.

This, I hasten to clarify, is not the case.

The new house (I'm aware that just saying this practically guarantees that the whole thing will fall through within days) *is* quite ancient, although in Jane Austen's day it would probably have been inhabited by a family of chandlers, tallow-merchants, chandlers' mates, apprentice tallow-merchants, etc. It dates from the mid-18th century, apparently, but it's built on the site of a much older, early medieval town, so the minute we (hopefully) get in there, I'll be out in the back garden in my rainbow jumper scratching at the soil with my dibber and trowel in search of vestigial middens and potsherds, like the GIANT ARCHAEOLOGY GEEK that I am.

I spent a good part of my formative years round at my Granny's house covetously reading out the property descriptions in Country Life (it's saying things like this that makes me feel I will never successfully be able to pretend to be from the ghetto) to anyone who would listen. Since every single property description in Country Life begins with the phrase 'Grade II listed' (and usually ends with the phrase 'stabling for six horses'), I developed very early on in my life a profound desire to own a house with this designation.

So while I was idly perusing the description for The New House, a primordial longing was rekindled in my (currently ampler than usual) bosom the moment I clapped eyes on the 'Grade II Listed' bullet point. In practice, all it means is that we can't replace the front windows unless it's with slavishly authentic, artisan-made reproductions, which will be never, as such windows no doubt cost A MILLION POUNDS each, so the living room might be a bit draughty. But then, as the living room is haunted, it's bound to be draughty anyway what with the chill spirits of the departed hanging around like eerie palimpsests of a forgotten past, so that's OK. I think.


Dave said...

Would it sound devious to suggest that you might like to ask fellow bloggers, some of whom have their own trowels, to come and turn over the soil in your garden to a depth of, oh a yard or two?

Not only would you obtain much evidence of the past, but you will have a nice weed-free vegetable plot.

This would be a cunning plan.

Did you see what I did there?

nuttycow said...

Sigh.. thank you for giving me mid-afternoon Mr Darcy dreams.


Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Eerie palimpsests? I bet you never read that in Country Life. You may find that they're Grade II listed, too.

Is Mr Darcy an e.p., do you think?

patroclus said...

Dave: If you can lay a neat trench and plant a neat row of runner beans, you're in. Even better if you can bring some geophys equipment.

(I did see what you did there, top marks).

Nuttycow: I've never actually seen (or indeed read) Pride and Prejudice, but I've read so many descriptions of Mr Darcy in his white shirt that I feel like I have. Does this mean Colin Firth is a simulacrum? Only Tim can tell.

Dad: Palimpsest or simulacrum? You decide!

Dave said...

It's so frustrating that I visited the Falmouth area last year. It's a bit far away to visit more regularly than once in a blue moon.

Otherwise my trowel, ground penetrating radar, magnetometer and I would be round in a flash.

Annie said...

All I can say from bitter experience is...

Don't. Blog. About. It.

Can't watch *peeks through fingers*

Malc said...

Stripy jumper? All you need now is a funny accent, tobacco-stained fingers and big sideburns to get a job with Time Team.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Boston we used to talk about the "old" houses requiring redoing so the lead-paint-laden children would stop requiring chelation (de-leading, to the non-clinical crowd) at the last remaining (now gone, naturally) public hospital in the city. I will deliberately not tell you how old said houses were to avoid the familar US v. UK "you think that's old?" dynamic. I would like to know the story of just who is haunting the new place, though...

belladona said...

Ghosts are rather nice. You can always get it exorcised if it turns out to be grumpy. I think I'd feel quite odd now if I wasn't around haunted places. Ooh, you could get 'most haunted' in, which might pay for window replacements. They offered my work squillions to make a programe. Which was turned down. Even though the roof (still) leaks. *sighs*

Marsha Klein said...

Re. comment on previous post:

The Still Room was originally used for distilling perfumes and cordials. By the 1830s it was in use for the room in a middle-class home where cakes, preserves and liqueurs were kept, where bread and butter, tea and coffee were prepared. It was also evidently the room from which the housekeeping was directed. Possibly fitted in the late 1830s at Dickens's orders, the handsome fireplace suggests the mistress of the household spent time here.
(taken from

When Crabtree & Evelyn's shops still had that "olde worlde" look they used to imply that their products were the offspring of the lotions, potions, jellies and jams concocted in a still room. I've wanted one of my own for ages.

Of course, every whisky distillery also has a still room, but I don't fancy one of those so much.

Taiga the Fox said...

Have you also got a stabling for six horses now?

Anonymous said...

i hope you have an archaeologist haircut, as seen on time team.
i sympathise with your inability to be (modishly) from the ghetto. my daughter was whining, the other day, that 'harriet from the block' just doesn't have that authentic ring. what was i thinking when i named her?

llewtrah said...

Sort of a new hovel then? With listed mouseholes?